Lautenberg, Menendez, Pascrell And Sires Secure $430K To Boost Essex County Juvenile Justice

Lautenberg, Menendez, Pascrell And Sires Secure $430K To Boost Essex County Juvenile Justice

Washington - U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) and Albio Sires (D-NJ-13) today announced that Essex County has been awarded over $429,000 to help reintegrate youthful offenders back into their communities and reduce the rate of recidivism at the county Juvenile Detention Center (JDC). The New Jersey Senators, along with Pascrell and Sires specifically designated the project funding for Essex County's justice initiative in the 2008 congressional budget.

"These funds will help provide juvenile offenders who have served their sentences a safe, secure and productive reentry into the community," Sen. Lautenberg said. "Too often, young people released from juvenile detention return to the same influences that got them in trouble in the first place. Our residents, our economy and our state all benefit from programs like these that break that cycle and teach individuals to make better decisions."

"At a time when our economy is hurting deeply, we need to do all we can to help young people play a productive role in our society," stated Senator Menendez. "This funding will go a long way toward preventing juvenile offenders from falling back into a life of crime, and will support the education and training they need to get back on the right track."

"I am proud to have worked with my Congressional colleagues and county officials to secure federal funding that will help address the alarming rate of juvenile detentions in Essex County," stated Pascrell. "Juvenile reentry should be utilized as an opportunity to help misguided young people realize they can choose a lifetime of positive opportunities instead of a lifetime of jail sentences. This grant gives Essex County the tools to provide new hope for troubled young people and improve communities by reducing delinquent behavior."

"I am pleased to have worked with my colleagues in the House to secure funding for the Essex County juvenile justice program," stated Sires. "Our youth must address numerous pitfalls on a daily basis and I believe that this program will give them an alternative to a better life prior to re-entering the community."

"Literacy and education are the first steps to building a positive and productive adulthood, and we will continue to focus on this area in our Juvenile Detention Center," said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. "We greatly appreciate the help of Senators Menendez and Lautenberg, along with Representatives Pascrell and Sires, in obtaining this funding. Their support will allow us to add to our 8,000 book library, and maintain our position as the only juvenile detention facility in the State to offer a full 6-hour school day. The grant will also enable us to create new alternatives to incarceration, as we work to prepare our youth for the time they leave our facility and rejoin their community," DiVincenzo added.

The target population for the initiative is youths aged 12-17 who are housed in the JDC while awaiting trial or as the result of legal adjudication. Essex County has identified four key activities to reduce the JDC's 65 percent rate of recidivism and improve the reintegration of juveniles into their communities. The activities include the assessment of juvenile participants, linkage with literacy and educational resources, the creation of a detailed, individualized reentry-discharge plan and establishment of the Essex County Youth Council (YAC).

The Essex County Youth Advisory Council will ensure that young people participate in the process of decision making by contributing their thoughts and insights on county youth programs. It will reduce the likelihood of a return to delinquent behavior and enable juveniles to engage in constructive positive activities. Under the program, juveniles will have an opportunity to receive support from the community that will guide them during a transition back into their respective neighborhoods.

Nearly 25 percent of all juveniles detained in JDCs in the State of New Jersey are detained in the Essex County JDC, but only 10 percent of all New Jersey residents live in Essex County.